Building on the Promises.

March 26, 2022 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Acts - The Gospel in Motion

Topic: Christian Living, The Gospel, The Church Scripture: Acts 15:12–35

Satan mixes truth and error to deceive Christians. He will often speak half-truths to get people to believe the lie. The Bible says “he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). These are just one of the many strategies the devil uses to cause disunity in the local church and stop the spread of the gospel. We see in our text Satan deploying this tactic – unsuccessfully (thankfully).

There are three main lessons that we can learn from our text:

  • 1. Doctrinal Concern (v.12-18)
  • 2. A Loving Conclusion (v.19-29)
  • 3. A Strengthened Congregation (v.30-35)

Acts 15 falls in the middle of The Acts of The Apostles. There is a good reason why right at the center of The Acts of The Apostles we have this account of the Jerusalem Council. It was a defining moment in the history of the church; perhaps the most important moment following the resurrection and Pentecost.

In many ways the gospel itself was at stake. The insistence by some — a sect of the Pharisees who had made it up to Antioch and had followed Paul and Barnabas in their travels through Asia Minor and in the province of Galatia in particular — this sect of the Pharisees were insisting that without circumcision you cannot be saved. And so this council has been convened in the mother church in Jerusalem.

In our passage, James the half-brother of Jesus and the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, offered a conclusion to the matter that was well received by the council. James cautioned his hearers to not “trouble” the Gentile believers (v.19). They were in danger of crowding out the grace of God, and in that way confusing their Gentile brothers. The outcome was that the Gentile churches were greatly encouraged and the unity of the churches, made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, was preserved (15:30-35).

Discussion Questions

  1. How can we determine which doctrines in the Bible are essential to the faith and which are not as important?
  2. What are some examples of offensive things that Christians can do that keep unbelievers from believing the gospel?
  3. What are some examples of offensive things that Christians can do that could lead weaker believers into sin?
  4. What are some culturally acceptable practices that the Bible says are always wrong, but where Christians are in danger of imitating the world?
  5. What is the most relevant lesson for you from this passage? What action step can you take to apply what you have learned?

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